101 Indian Villages to be Uplifted by Comprehensive Aid Program
As part of Amma's 60th birthday celebrations, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) is going to 'adopt' 101 villages throughout India with the aim of helping them become self-reliant and thriving. Thus, the program’s name: Amrita Self-Reliant Village or Amrita Svasrayagramam.
The Math is currently in the process of surveying and selecting the villages. Once the selection process is complete, it will begin implementing the following, drawing upon all of the humanitarian programs it has established during the past 30 years. The launch of the Amrita Self-Reliant Village Program is, in many ways, the culmination of MAM’s charitable humanitarian mission thus far.
- Ensure each villager has a proper home and that the villages have school buildings, streetlights, community halls and proper drainage through MAM’s Amrita Kuteeram Free-Housing Project
- Start a free vocational-training institute centered around Computerized Vocational & Education Training (cVET) and Life-Enrichment Education (LEE) systems developed and managed by MAM’s AMMACHI Labs.
- Establish basic health facilities, clinics and trained health-workers via MAM’s AIMS Hospital and ensure basic nutrition for children
- Keep children in school through 12th standard through scholarships program
- Provide two hours of after-school tutoring through tablet-based programs, as well as tablet-based literacy training for adults with a goal of 100 percent literacy in villagers 60 and under
- Help women start self-help groups, through the Amrita SREE program
- Provide pensions to widows and disabled through the Amrita Nidhi pension-for-life program
- Set up zero-waste production through recycling under the Amala Bharatam Campaign
- Increase trees in each village, through the Greenfriends Afforestation Program
- Establish proper nutrition and food by teaching villagers to grow their own organic vegetables, through the Haritamritam Program
- Ensure safe drinking-water supply and increase ground-water levels, through rainwater-harvesting
- Impart healthy lifestyles, through the Amrita Yoga and Integrated Amrita Meditation Technique (IAM Technique)
- Reduce alcohol and tobacco abuse through awareness camps
Travelling India as part of her annual tours, Amma has listened to the problems of millions of poor villagers, holding them in her arms and drying their tears. In fact, all of MAM’s humanitarian activities—from the homes it builds for the homeless to its pensions for widows to its super-speciality hospital—have come as Amma’s direct response to hearing the stories of suffering, related directly to Amma by those coming for her embrace.
During the past 30 years, MAM has established all of the above-mentioned programs, gradually creating the requisite infrastructure to execute a program of the magnitude of the Amrita Self-Reliant Village Program:
Proper homes, school buildings, streetlights, community halls and drainage.
Since 1998, MAM has built more than 45,000 homes for the homeless throughout India as part of its ongoing Amrita Kuteeram housing project. MAM has even constructed entire villages, complete with medical centers, community halls, roads and bore wells. States and Union Territories that have benefitted from include Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Puducherry, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andaman Islands and Kerala.
AMMACHI Labs is a vocational-training-focused R&D department of MAM, providing innovative technological solutions to improve quality of life for the poor and under-educated. Through its programs, AMMACHI Labs has already provided training to more than 1,000 women in fields such as plumbing through haptics technology, mobile teaching labs and other programs. It will now establish 101 free institutes to impart vocational and life-training through computer-interactive education in the adopted villages, taking into account the needs of each village. AMMACHI Labs has always had a special focus on training women because research shows that woman are more likely than men to use money earned for the upliftment of the family.
Basic health facilities, clinics and trained health-workers
Since establishing Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) in Kochi in 1998, MAM has provided totally free medical care to more than 260,000 poor people. AIMS also reaches out to the poor community through more than 100 free medical camps every year, and MAM has set up numerous charitable hospitals with telemedicine connections to AIMS. AIMS Community Medicine program has trained health-workers who work for the community, counseling thousands of impoverished mothers. It has also trained already 200 tribal villagers in basic nursing, enabling them to promote health and hygiene in their villages. AIMS students play an active role. They also conduct seminars in schools and colleges focusing on reproductive health, HIV/AIDS awareness, and drug and alcohol abuse.
Keep children in school through 12th grade
MAM is currently providing 41,000 scholarships for impoverished children throughout India through its Vidyamritam scholarship program. The program was started in 2007 with the specific aim of helping children of impoverished agricultural families to remain in school and thereby lessen their families’ dependency upon farming. It has since expanded this program to include all types of impoverished children.
After-school tutoring and literacy training for adults with a goal of 100 percent literacy in villagers 60 and under
With the goal of supporting the educational needs of the rural children so they continue to go to schools, two-hours of after-school tutoring will be set up in these villages using tablets to establish skills in basic literacy, language learning, science and mathematics. A unique tablet-based multimedia learning program, developed by Amrita University’s R&D department, takes into account the learning needs of multi-grade, rural students and is exclusively designed for the tablet format, taking into considering its screen size and low processing power.
The learning program is designed to work where there is little or no Internet connectivity. In the first phase, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam languages will be supported. The trainers will be trained to use this as a learning aid. Our pilot-testing with tribal students and rural teachers have confirmed the efficacy of low-cost tablet-based learning approach.
With the Government of India’s recent decision to provide 20 million tablets to students and with many states following suit, MAM’s efforts to provide high-quality educational content exclusively for tablets targeting rural students will bridge the digital divide and to support RTE (Right to Education).
There will be a similar tablet-based adult-education program to promote 100-percent literacy in both adults.
In a landmark joint project between the Amrita Center for Nanosciences & Molecular Medicine and the Amrita University School of Engineering in Amritapuri, MAM has developed integrated nano-material-developed solar cells and batteries that are 500 times more efficient than existing technology and have much larger power densities have been developed. Ultimately, this technology will be used to ensure that tablets are rechargeable via solar power.
Self Help Groups for Women
Through Amrita SREE, MAM has already helped more than 100,000 women to form more 6,000 self-help groups. MAM provides both the basic business education and helps the woman avail of microcredit loans.
Pensions to widows and disabled
MAM is currently providing pension to 59,000 widows and physically and mentally challenged people throughout India through its Amrita Nidhi program. The pension is given for life.
Set up zero-waste production through recycling
MAM started improving public health and restoring India’s natural beauty through its Amala Bharatam Campaign (ABC) in 2010. Since then it organized more than 1,000 clean-up drives throughout India and educated lakhs of children about the health-related importance of not urinating and spitting in public areas. MAM’s Amritapuri Ashram and the campuses of Amrita University have become models of recycling. MAM will impart the techniques and knowledge of recycling to the adopted villages to help them to become zero-waste villages.
Increase trees in each village
MAM is member of the United Nation’s Billion Tree Campaign. MAM and Amma’s devotees outside of India have planted a million saplings since 2001. As part of Amritavarsham60, Amma’s volunteers have launched a program to plant 6 million more trees throughout the world. A portion of these trees will be planted in the 101 villages adopted by MAM.
Impart healthy lifestyles
MAM regularly teaches yoga and meditation at its centers, schools and university campuses throughout India. The IAM Technique, at the request of the Government of India, has been taught to thousands of members of the paramilitary.
Reduce alcohol and tobacco abuse
MAM already has in place a system for educating individuals about the danger of alcohol and tobacco abuse, which is already being employed in villages and tribal regions.
Teach villagers to grow their own organic vegetables
More than 10,000 members of Amrita SREE self-help groups are already growing organic vegetables on their own land. MAM is distributing free seeds to all the participants, and is arranging free training and demonstration classes by traditional farmers and agriculturalists adept in organic farming.